Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Coronavirus: why aren’t we talking more about vitamin D?

BAME people suffer more from Covid-19, but the problem probably isn't racism.

One area of anger in recent protests against racism has been the differential impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) people. But assuming that viruses don’t discriminate, can those deaths really be put down to racism or is there something else going on?

One idea is that there may be something simpler going: vitamin D deficiency. Normally, when people talk about vitamin or mineral deficiencies, I tend to switch off. There is a mildly hypochondriac tendency in modern society to think that we should all be obsessing about supplements of all sorts of trace elements and odd herbal remedies. I tend to give Holland & Barrett a wide berth.

But the case for vitamin D seems stronger. Usually simply thought of as being a factor in osteoporosis and other bone conditions, vitamin D actually has a much wider impact in our bodies than that. In particular, it seems to play a role in regulating aspects of our immune system.

As the science writer Matt Ridley noted in May: ‘There has long been evidence that a sufficiency of vitamin D protects against viruses, especially respiratory ones, including the common cold. Vitamin D increases the production of antiviral proteins and decreases cytokines, the immune molecules that can cause a “storm” of dangerous inflammation. It has long been suspected that most people’s low vitamin D levels in late winter partly explain the seasonal peaking of flu epidemics, and rising vitamin D levels in spring partly explain their sudden ending.’

All sorts of effects of vitamin D have been suggested in recent years. For example, it seems to help with autoimmune diseases, where our immune systems become harmful to us. Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis have been characterised in this way. Type 2 diabetes, usually thought of as a metabolic disease, may in part be an autoimmune disease, too. (Notably, BAME people have much higher rates of type 2 diabetes than white people.)

What does all this have to do with the colour of our skin?

Vitamin D is, arguably, not a vitamin at all, which is usually defined as something we need to get from our diet. The majority of our vitamin D comes from the effect of sunlight – ultraviolet light specifically – on our skin, where a derivative of cholesterol is converted into vitamin D. In northerly latitudes like the UK, we don’t get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D for six months of the year. This is even more pronounced for people with darker skin – it takes more sun exposure to produce sufficient vitamin D than it would for pale-skinned people.

A survey of evidence by Karl Pfleger shows several different lines of evidence pointing to vitamin D as an important factor in Covid-19. For example, comparing the vitamin D status of Covid-19 hospital patients has shown that the ones with low vitamin D are much more likely to end up in intensive care. Areas in northerly latitudes are more likely to be hard hit, but this is offset in countries where supplementation – through fortifying foods – is more common.

Perhaps another pointer is the fact that the first drug to show real promise in treating patients is dexamethasone – a steroid. Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. Vitamin D is a steroid, too. (To be more precise, vitamin D is a collective name for a group of steroids.)

So there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that vitamin D deficiency is important in Covid-19 and there are plausible biological mechanisms for why that might be the case. Giving vitamin D to patients who already have plenty seems to have little effect.

Yet a review of evidence by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), published on Tuesday, advised: ‘There is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid‑19. However, all people should continue to follow UK government advice on daily vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health during the Covid‑19 pandemic.’

This is a rather odd conclusion. The review examined five peer-reviewed papers. (It ignored the mass of pre-print research that has not had time to go through peer review in the short time the pandemic has been going.) ‘Four of the studies found an association or correlation between a lower vitamin D status and subsequent development of Covid‑19. However, confounders such as body mass index (BMI) or underlying health conditions, which may have independent correlations with vitamin D status or Covid‑19, were not adjusted for.’

The fifth paper, by Hastie et al, found the effect disappeared when these potential confounders were taken into account. NICE seems to lean very heavily on this one paper. But there are two problems. First, vitamin D status was gleaned from UK Biobank data – which was collected at least 10 years ago. Patients’ vitamin D status wasn’t measured at the time they got ill. Second, ethnicity and body mass index (BMI) are not independent variables from vitamin D. Rather, vitamin D deficiency is an attempt to explain why ethnicity and BMI matter. (People with high BMI are also more likely to have low vitamin D.)

Moreover, the cut-off date for the NICE paper meant it didn’t have a chance to consider two pre-prints of particular interest. A study from Singapore found ‘the active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, exhibits significant potent activity against SARS-CoV-2’ (the virus that causes Covid-19). A study on patients in Newcastle in the UK found that ‘patients requiring ITU admission were more frequently vitamin D deficient than those managed on medical wards, despite being significantly younger’.

In short, there is plenty of evidence to point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for Covid-19. Yet officials and politicians seem wary of talking about it. If we were talking about a drug with significant side effects, like hydroxychloroquine (Donald Trump’s Covid drug of choice), we might have cause to be nervous about recommending it. But this is a vitamin and it is well known that many people across the world are deficient.

Indeed, the NHS already suggests that pretty much everyone takes vitamin D supplements, at least over the winter. In Scotland, for example, the NHS Scotland website is clear: ‘Everyone (including children) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.’ That’s probably far too little. There is little or no risk of overdosing for adults up to 100 micrograms per day, so taking significantly more would address insufficiency more effectively.

The advice is particularly emphasised for certain groups, including: ‘People who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, are housebound, confined indoors for long periods or live in an institution such as a care home; and people from minority-ethnic groups with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin, who require more sun exposure to make as much vitamin D.’

There is, of course, the possibility that Covid-19 deaths could be due to poverty, deprivation and ‘systemic racism’. And any research around the disease is obviously new and should be treated as provisional. Vitamin D is unlikely to be a panacea.

But serious cases seem disproportionately related to vitamin D deficiency. Among doctors – who are unlikely to be economically deprived – 94 per cent of deaths have been BAME medics. Moreover, testing for vitamin D deficiency is cheap. Supplements are cheap, widely available and safe. So wouldn’t it be better to focus more of our attention – both medical and research – on the ‘sunshine vitamin’?



Appease the Mob, Destroy the Nation

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of the current effort to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into the Republic of Wokeistan is the seemingly invincible ignorance of history that attends it. The American Left is seeking to impose a totalitarian, Communist Chinese Red Guard worldview on this nation, whereby those who are insufficiently attuned to progressive ideology will be relegated to the margins — at best — and completely destroyed at worst.

Moreover, the smug self-assurance among elitists in media, academia, politics, Hollywood, sports, and business that a sufficient amount of ideological alignment and/or a craven level of guilt-signaling obsequiousness will render them immune from the depredations of the mob is, quite simply, a pipe dream.

As history reveals, the Red Guard movement collapsed from within, when even the most dedicated followers of Maoism were unable to keep up with the ever-increasing demands for absolute purity of thought. And despite leading the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, during which more than 17,000 “enemies of the people” were guillotined, Maximilien Robespierre was also executed by the same mob he himself created.

Thus, when a number of progressive politicians in Democrat-controlled cities who imposed draconian lockdowns let “protesters” flout social-distancing edicts, while telling cops to stand down; when political hacks like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey grovel before black protesters about “coming to grips with my own brokenness”; or when white police officers wash the feet of BLM protesters while apologizing for the “sins” of the white race, the results of such fecklessness are eminently predictable: Cities are looted and burned, a humiliated Frey is sent packing by an angry mob, and calls to defund police departments reach crescendo pitch throughout the nation.

The mob expects nothing less. In fact, it demands much more, and rigid conformity goes right to the top of the list. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who runs a charity helping sick and needy kids, has learned that no amount of apologizing by him and his wife for daring to suggest the American flag and national anthem are worthy of respect is sufficient. Even worse, he has managed to alienate almost everyone, first for expressing his opinion and then for being guilted into submission by members of a league run by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has also decided that alienating half of his potential audience is a reasonable tradeoff for being “down with the cause.”

He is far from alone. Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos is “happy to lose” customers who take offense at his decision to virtue signal his support for Black Lives Matter at the top of his website. A&E and Paramount are more than willing to postpone or cancel new episodes of police shows on their respective TV schedules, and HBO Max has temporarily removed 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” until it can attach statements to it denouncing its “racist” content. The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer are content to bow to the progressive mob — both outside and inside the newsroom — and allow it to determine what headlines and editorial content is acceptable. Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Andy Beshear has no problem announcing he intends to provide healthcare coverage for “100% of our individuals in our black and African-American communities.”

That such puerile pandering reveals the hypocrisy of a multibillionaire elitist who recently rescinded a two-dollar-an-hour, coronavirus-engendered pay increase for Amazon warehouse workers, even as his net worth increased $32 billion since January? That entertainment networks are attempting to solidify the mindset that there is something inherently wrong with police work and Oscar-winning film classics? That both newspapers have reduced their credibility to zero? That there are Kentuckians of other ethnicities who doubtlessly need healthcare coverage?

That the mob itself is wholly unconcerned with the most lethal, enduring, and primary source of black murders, epitomized by Chicago’s most violent day in 60 years?

An utterly bankrupt ideology must be served.

Let’s be clear: George Floyd and the legitimate protests surrounding his death have been completely co-opted by rank, America-hating opportunists whose motives are crystal clear as soon as reasonable Americans ask themselves a simple question: Who supported the killing of George Floyd? No one in their right minds on any part of the political spectrum, that’s who. Even an overwhelming majority of police have decried the actions of the four individuals involved, all of whom have been arrested and charged.

Thus another telling question inevitably arises: Who, exactly, is the “enemy” that must be vanquished so that “justice” can prevail?

The answer is as simple as it is damning: Anyone and everyone who fails to unquestioningly embrace each and every demand of a nihilist progressive mob. A mob every bit as virulent as any other mob that has sought absolute power throughout the history of mankind. A mob wholly disinterested in compromise, good will, or reconciliation. A mob decades in the making, courtesy of America-contemptuous, progressive indoctrinators presenting themselves as educators, entertainment industry titans who cater to the lowest common denominator, duplicitous multinational CEOs with no allegiance to this nation, progressive prosecutors who disdain the Rule of Law, craven politicians in both parties whose self-interest completely transcends statesmanship, and the useful-idiot talkingheads in the media who shill for all of it, 24/7/365.

“Americans want to stand with those peacefully protesting injustice,” writes columnist Joshua Lawson. “But the radical Left offers either the choice of self-condemnation for evils Americans had no hand in, or to be silent and stay that way. If the second option is chosen, that very silence is viewed as an indictment of ‘complicity’ often seen by the Left as akin to violence itself.”

Thankfully, there are those who refuse to be intimidated. “I took off today, this weekend, but I’m out here just to make sure y'all are safe. Don’t go there with respect, okay? I have much respect, but I only kneel for one person, and that’s God,” stated black Georgia State Trooper O'Neal Saddler.

Next November, the American electorate will face a choice between the mob and people like Mr. Saddler. If Americans embrace the collective guilt demanded by the mob, they will deeply regret it when those same demands for ideological purity that destroyed the Red Guard are imposed on them — and their children — with unrelenting ferocity.

As for the cadre of elitists who mistakenly believe they have bought themselves absolution, columnist Kurt Schlichter gets it exactly right: “Mansions and BMWs burn just like churches and police cars do.”

Indeed they do, Mssrs. Frey, Goodell, Bezos, Beshear, et al. Indeed they do.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Monday, July 06, 2020

New Study Shows Hydroxychloroquine can cut deaths in half  .. and Exposes Why The Media Attacked Trump Over It

The media has been running a full-blown offensive against the drug ever since President Trump mentioned it as a possible therapeutic against coronavirus. Hydroxychloroquine has been treated as something akin to heroin when it comes to these media folks who desperately find any which way to attack this administration.

They’re enemies of the people. What mental malfunction do you need to have to attack a possible drug that could help save lives? Well, liberalism is a mental disorder. We’re seeing that with every passing day, along with data that shows the coronavirus was overblown.

No, it’s not a hoax. It’s a real pathogen that’s contagious, but the lockdowns did more harm than good and the people who appear to be the greatest at risk for death were folks who were already in that category pre-COVID. The elderly, those with immune issues, diabetes, those who were fighting cancer, and those who had organ transplants. The list is obviously longer, but you get the point.

Still, for those who were infected and hospitalized, this anti-malarial drug appears to have prevented the death toll from increasing. That’s good news, but CNN found a new study on this “surprising” (via CNN):

"A surprising new study found that the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped patients better survive in the hospital.

A team at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan said Thursday its study of 2,541 hospitalized patients found that those given hydroxychloroquine were much less likely to die.

Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System, said 26% of those not given hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 13% of those who got the drug. The team looked back at everyone treated in the hospital system since the first patient in March.

"Overall crude mortality rates were 18.1% in the entire cohort, 13.5% in the hydroxychloroquine alone group, 20.1% among those receiving hydroxychloroquine?plus?azithromycin, 22.4% among the azithromycin alone group, and 26.4% for neither drug," the team wrote in a report published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The Henry Ford team also monitored patients carefully for heart problems, he said.

"The combination of hydroxychloroquine?plus?azithromycin was reserved for selected patients with severe COVID-19 and with minimal cardiac risk factors," the team wrote.

The Henry Ford team said they believe their findings show hydroxychloroquine could be potentially useful as a treatment for coronavirus.

"It's important to note that in the right settings, this potentially could be a lifesaver for patients," Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, said at the news conference."

Oh, eat it, you liberal media clowns. Just eat it and shut up. It's not like you didn't know. Katie wrote about how thousands of doctors had already noted this drug as an effective treatment...in April.

For weeks you attacked this drug, even peddling fake news about it, insinuating that this treatment might have caused a heart attack that killed a New York woman. Buried in the story was the fact that this woman’s family didn’t know how she died; they did not get a death certificate at the time of publication. Oh, and you remember that Arizona couple, right? They blamed Trump for that fiasco.

It must suck to be wrong this much the liberal media, either because they’re too stupid or arrogant as hell, seem to like being whipped like this. Hey, no judgment here, everyone has their…proclivities. But the media has been gluttons for punishment regarding anything relating to this White House and eating crow and being wrong about everything



Democrats Are Fine With Watching America Burn

As Americans around the country and the world celebrate the founding of the United States this weekend, Democrats have made it clear whose side they’re on when it comes to attacking the values and traditions that matter most.

For weeks, cities across the country have been overrun by leftist anarchists seeking to destroy the United States from the inside out. Leftist mayors have not only stood by to watch but have openly endorsed criminal behavior. After all, it’s “for a good cause.”

In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan allowed leftist anarchists to take over a number of city blocks and called it the beginning of a “summer of love.” After multiple murders of black teenagers, Durkan still did nothing to shut the zone down and tied the hands of the police chief. When 19-year-old Horace Lorenzo Anderson was killed, she didn’t bother to call his father with the news. She finally took action when rowdy protestors, led by socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, marched to her personal home.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had the nerve to lecture President Trump on leadership as murders and shootings in the city skyrocket. In Minneapolis, the city council voted to defund the police while using thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for their own private security. In New York, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is slashing the NYPD’s budget and allowing the mob to vandalize statues of George Washington and other important historical figures.

But it’s one thing for Democrat “leadership” to watch their own cities burn, it’s another for leaders in Washington to allow for the desecration of monuments and property that belongs to all of us.

The Department of Homeland Security has deployed special teams to protect the nation’s monuments and to ensure they are available for enjoyment by American families during the long holiday weekend.

“If you’re thinking about defacing federal property this weekend, take note,” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted, citing a story about criminal charges for Antifa anarchists who tried to tear down a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park.

The move was immediately criticized as instituting a police state in the name of federally sanctioned racism, conveniently ignoring weeks of chaos and destruction. Democrats on Capitol Hill condemned the move and groups like the ACLU released statements opposing it.

So the question is, what are Democrats and the left doing to prevent anarchists from destroying American tradition, property and ruining lives as a result? The answer is nothing.

And finally, Democrats have again exposed their agenda by condemning Independence Day celebrations while openly supporting mass Black Lives Matter demonstrations. They claim going to a local fireworks celebration will lead to Wuhan coronavirus super-spreader events, while failing to hysterically claim the same as thousands attend riots and protests without following scientific guidelines from the “experts.”



Trump blasts 'far-left fascism' at Mount Rushmore

Keystone, South Dakota: US President Donald Trump has delivered a speech against a "new far-left fascism" seeking to wipe out the nation's values and history.

Speaking underneath a famed landmark that depicts four US presidents, Trump railed against "angry mobs" that tried to tear down statues of Confederate leaders and other historical figures, warning thousands of supporters at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, that protesters were trying to erase history.

He warned the demonstrations over racial inequality in American society threatened the foundations of the US political system.  "Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution," Trump said.

"Our children are taught in school to hate their own country," he claimed.

"There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. Not gonna happen to us," he said.

The event at the start of the Fourth of July weekend, drew an estimated 7500 people packed tightly into an amphitheatre beneath the iconic landmark that depicts the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Masks were offered to attendees but many did not wear them.

Trump barely mentioned the pandemic, even as the country surpassed 53,000 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours and health officials urged Americans to scale back their Fourth of July plans. Seven states posted a record number of new cases on Friday. Almost a quarter of the known global deaths have now occurred in the United States – nearly 129,000.

Instead, according to The New York Times, the President "leaned into the culture wars that invigorate his base of supporters". Railing against what he described as a dangerous "cancel culture", Trump said the left wanted to "unleash a wave of violent crime" in cities across the country. He said they "think the American people are weak and soft and submissive." In contrast, "he framed himself as the leader who would protect the Second Amendment, law enforcement, and the country's heritage", The Times wrote.

Mount Rushmore has not hosted a fireworks spectacle since 2009 because of environmental concerns. Trump advocated for a resumption of the display, and the state says the surrounding Black Hills National Forest has "gained strength" since then and that fireworks technology has advanced.

South Dakota, a solidly Republican state, has not been hit as hard as other states by COVID-19, but cases in Pennington County, where Mount Rushmore is located, have more than doubled over the past month.



Liberalism Is Dangerous to Your Wallet and Your Health
The most recent jobs report found that nine of the 10 states with unemployment rates above 14% are in liberal blue states. Ranked from highest to lowest, they are Nevada (25.3%), Hawaii (22.6%), Michigan (21.2%), California (16.3%), Rhode Island (16.3%), Massachusetts (16.3%), Delaware (15.8%), Illinois (15.2%), New Jersey (15.2%) and Washington state (15.1%). I call this the “blue-state jobs depression.” The states with the lowest unemployment rates are all conservative red states: Nebraska (5.2%), Utah (8.5 %), Wyoming 8.8%, Arizona (8.9%) and Idaho (8.9%).

It is hardly shocking news. Liberals are anti-business, and their policies are especially hostile to small businesses. As my old boss, former Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, used to say, liberals love jobs but hate employers. Democratic governors had the strictest economic lockdowns, and they let their businesses burn and get looted during the riots. They raise taxes and protect the unions over the general welfare of the citizens.

The meltdown of blue-state America isn’t new. It has been going on for at least three decades. Over the last five, 10, 20 or 30 years, red states with low taxes have created double the percentage of jobs than blue states with high taxes.

So, liberalism is bad for your wallets and the overall economy. Voters get this. Polling shows that even people who don’t like President Donald Trump agree that he would be better for jobs and the economy than Joe Biden.

But the standard reply from the media and the liberal academics is that blue-state policies keep us safer and healthier. Those greedy free marketeers put greed and corporate profits over saving lives.

It is a false narrative: Nearly everyone agrees that saving lives during a pandemic must be a top policy priority. The question is, how do you keep people safe? Well, we now know that lockdowns didn’t keep us safer. The states that never locked down, such as Wyoming, had the lowest death rates as a share of the population. The states with the strictest lockdown policies, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Michigan, had death rates three to eight times the national average. All of those states, except for Massachusetts, have Democratic governors.

To put it simply: People who live in blue states were more than twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as those who reside in blue states. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York recently declared that he wants to keep New Yorkers safe by preventing Floridians from entering the Empire State. Is he joking? New York’s death rate from COVID-19 is 10 times higher than Florida’s. It would be like Mexico telling Americans at the border, “We aren’t going to let you in.”

New cases are rising in red states that have opened up for business faster than in blue states that have remained mostly closed. And we will have to see how this pans out. But the deaths, especially in nursing homes, remain much higher in the blue states. Moreover, studies are now finding that the adverse health effects from the lockdown (suicide, delayed treatments for cancer and heart problems, depression, spousal and child abuse, alcoholism, and drug overdoses, to name a few) could easily match the saved lives from lockdowns. These “lockdown deaths” are far more prevalent in blue states that shut down.

Also, if you want a safe and crime-free environment for your family, consider the Heritage Foundation analysis that reported that 18 of the 20 most dangerous cities are run by mayors who are Democrats.

So, congratulations to Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois. You rank last on jobs and health. And to think that the media herald them as the superstar leaders in America.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Sunday, July 05, 2020

Big Pharma is RICH

Drug companies are a huge hate-object for the Left. Because they appear to be big and rich and successful, that alone  provokes hatred in the enviers of the Left.  Add to that the high prices of some drugs and it is clear to the Left that the drug companies are "ripping off" the rest of us.

But are they?  Conservatives point to the huge costs of drug development and the consequent huge losses when the drug is not a success.  So the profitability of drug companies generally is not at all clear.  Big profits are accompanied by big losses.

Fortunately, we now have an attempt at real information on the subject.  An article has recently appeared in JAMA that sets out to answer the question objectively. It is "Profitability of Large Pharmaceutical Companies Compared With Other Large Public Companies" by Ledley et al.  An excerpt:

Question:  How do the profits of large pharmaceutical companies compare with those of other companies from the S&P 500 Index?

Findings:  In this cross-sectional study that compared the profits of 35 large pharmaceutical companies with those of 357 large, nonpharmaceutical companies from 2000 to 2018, the median net income (earnings) expressed as a fraction of revenue was significantly greater for pharmaceutical companies compared with nonpharmaceutical companies (13.8% vs 7.7%).

Meaning:  Large pharmaceutical companies were more profitable than other large companies, although the difference was smaller when controlling for differences in company size, research and development expense, and time trends.

So that's it.  Open and shut.  The left have some justification for their views.  But only superficially. The methodology of the study is very poor.  Why compare 35 companies with 357?  Many of that 357 would have been much smaller than the pharma companies.  So you are not comparing like with like. Large companies would normally have some degree of monopoly in their markets, which makes them more profitable than smaller companies.  A more defensible method would have been to pick 35 companies in each sector with comparable market capitalization and compare them in profitability.

But the problems do not end there. Drugs are a very risky business.  You can spend a billion dollars getting a drug approved only to find that a few deaths have been attributed to the drug.  The deaths will most likely to have been coincidences but publc pressure will cause the drug to be taken off the market -- leaving the company in a ditch.

And there is normally a return to risk.  People normally do risky things only if the reward is great.  So a valid comparison to a drug company would need to be with other risky businesses.  But that was not done in this case.  So it seems likely that the higher profits made by drug companies are simply payment for risk taking.  There is nothing unfair about their profits.  Their profits are what is needed to encourage innovation.  Remove that profit and you will see few if any new drugs.  Such profits are needed to get people into drug research and development.


Scotland could eliminate the coronavirus – if it weren't for England

SCOTLAND is only weeks away from suppressing the coronavirus altogether, a situation that highlights the different approaches taken by the nation and England in recent months. While Scotland initially made many of the same mistakes as England, since late March, its government has acted on its own scientific advice.

The two nations responded to the coronavirus similarly from January and up until March, says Devi Sridhar at the University of Edinburgh. “There are a couple of things where Scotland’s gone slightly earlier, but not radically.”

One early Scottish success came in community testing for the disease. When Kate Mark at the National Health Service Lothian in Edinburgh realised that suspected cases were increasing, her team began testing people in their homes and set up one of the world’s first drive-through testing centres. But on 12 March, the UK government abandoned all community testing efforts to focus on testing in hospitals and other healthcare settings, due to a lack of resources. From then on, the disease spread fast until, on 23 March, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown across the UK.

This wasn’t soon enough to prevent waves of deaths in care homes in Scotland and England. In both nations, protecting social care had been deprioritised in favour of healthcare. When Scotland began collecting data on covid-19 in care homes on 11 April, 37 per cent of homes were already infected, according to a report co-authored by David Henderson at Edinburgh Napier University. “In certain weeks, there was a 300 per cent increase in care home deaths in England, and 200 per cent in Scotland,” he says. “We could say we were slightly better, but I wouldn’t say a 200 per cent increase in deaths is something to shout about.”

Then the paths taken by Scotland and England began to diverge. Two days after the national lockdown began, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon created a scientific advisory group for Scotland to supplement the advice from the UK-wide Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. “That’s probably when you started seeing more divergence,” says Sridhar.

Scotland has been slower to relax lockdown than England and has done so in a step-by-step way, so that each change’s effects can be measured. This differs from England’s rapid relaxation, says Sridhar.

Scotland has also been more successful at building up testing and contact tracing, without banking on the UK government’s much-delayed app. “We’ve stuck to our principles of old-fashioned, traditional, evidence-based contact tracing,” says Mark.

Two other factors have contributed to Scotland’s relative success, says Sridhar. The first is clear messaging. On 10 May, the UK government changed its “stay at home” slogan to “stay alert”, but Scotland stuck to the original line. It has since switched to “stay safe”.

What’s more, “there is a very high level of trust in the Scottish government and in Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership”, says Sridhar. According to YouGov, as of 1 May, 74 per cent of Scottish people approved of their government’s handling of the pandemic and 71 per cent were confident in Nicola Sturgeon’s decisions. In contrast, a June poll found that 50 per cent of British people disapproved of Johnson and only 43 per cent approved of him.

On 29 June, Scotland reported just 5 new cases, out of 815 for the UK as a whole, and announced no new covid-19-related deaths for the fourth day in a row. The nation could soon have days with no new confirmed cases. “Scotland’s weeks away from that,” says Sridhar. “England’s months away.”

Yet in practice, Scotland is unlikely to achieve full elimination in the near future, because it has a 154-kilometre border with England. “Many people cross that border every day,” says Sridhar. “I think we will probably never get, without England’s cooperation, to full elimination.”

On 29 June, Sturgeon said that there are “no plans” to quarantine people who enter Scotland from other parts of the UK, but that the nation would need to “be able to consider all options” to stop the virus bouncing back if infection rates are different elsewhere in the country.

However, it should be possible for Scotland to keep the number of new cases very low – and perhaps encourage England to follow suit.



The first drug shown to save lives from coronavirus: Dexamethasone

Trump was right

Dexamethasone is the first medicine shown to reduce deaths from covid-19. It belongs to a class of drugs called steroids, which damp down the immune system. Our immune response is normally what saves us from attack by viruses and bacteria, but in people with severe covid-19, it seems to overreact. Immune cells congregate in the lungs, releasing high levels of immune signalling chemicals called cytokines, which attract yet more immune cells, in a vicious circle known as a cytokine storm. This leads to excessive inflammation in the lungs, with fluid leaking into the air spaces, hindering intake of oxygen.

Steroid drugs like dexamethasone are often used to treat other diseases caused by an overreactive immune system, like allergies, and have also been used previously to treat people in intensive care with lung inflammation. But steroids reduce the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria, so it was unclear if they would be beneficial overall in covid-19, where there is a risk that patients develop secondary bacterial infections.

The answer came from a large randomised trial of giving dexamethasone or placebo to people with severe covid-19 in the UK. In people who were on ventilators, 41 per cent of those who got the placebo died, while 29 per cent of those who got the steroid died. This is a relatively large effect, compared with drug treatments for other diseases. There was also a smaller survival advantage in people who were less severely ill and needed supplementary oxygen but weren’t on a ventilator.

People outside of hospital should not start taking dexamethasone or other steroids on their own initiative, though, because the negative effects on the immune system might outweigh any benefits. In fact, the UK trial found dexamethasone gave no survival benefit for hospital patients with covid-19 who were not sick enough to need extra oxygen.

Dexamethasone is not the first medicine shown to help against covid-19. That title goes to remdesivir, a drug that blocks viral replication. However remdesivir has only been shown to hasten recovery, not lower the death rate, so the dexamethasone trial results are seen as a significant milestone on the road to treating coronavirus.



4.8 Million Jobs, the USMCA, and the 2020 Election

Democrats and their Leftmedia publicists really do not want the American economy to improve — at least not until Joe Biden (or his running mate in his stead) is ensconced in the Oval Office on January 20, 2021. Thus even with another record-breaking jobs report, the Associated Press is still playing Eeyore, running this headline earlier this morning: “A predicted surge in US job growth for June might not last.” Gotta keep that skyrocketing consumer confidence tamped down.

Once the incredibly great news exceeded expectations, that headline became a rather pedestrian treatment of it: “US adds 4.8 million jobs as unemployment falls to 11.1%.” Then the AP edited the good news out entirely, leaving only the utterly dour: “US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway.”

In a sense, the pessimism is understandable. “The nation has now recovered roughly one-third of the 22 million jobs it lost to the pandemic recession,” the AP reports, while noting that spiking coronavirus cases and moves to reshutter some businesses will indeed stall a recovery. The economy is certainly not out of the proverbial woods yet, and if governors insist on closing businesses again rather than taking other mitigating efforts, we may collectively take one step forward and two steps back.

Enter President Donald Trump and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which took effect yesterday. As we have noted before, the USMCA serves to keep one of Trump’s campaign promises by improving trade relations with Canada and Mexico. The USMCA is not quite the wholesale replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as the president often claims. Nor was NAFTA a “disaster” or the “worst trade deal ever made,” as he decries. But the USMCA is a general improvement and modernization of the 1994 deal that should help create more American jobs.

“The USMCA is a big deal,” says Reason’s Eric Boehm. “Canada and Mexico are the top recipients of U.S. exports. The United States imports more goods from those two countries than anywhere else except China. The deal will affect more than $1 trillion in annual trade between the U.S. and its two neighbors.”

And as Trump declared, “Manufacturing looks like it’s ready to take off to a level that it’s never been. A lot of that has to do with our trade policy, because we’re bringing manufacturing back to our country.” He has made that a priority like few recent presidents, and, broadly speaking, his economic and regulatory policies deserve credit for why our economy was able to sustain the body blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

In any case, the economic choice this November is clear. One party wants to prolong and deepen a recession and then tax, spend, and regulate our way out of it. The president and his party, by contrast, want to keep America great by preserving lower taxes, less regulation, and Liberty itself.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Friday, July 03, 2020

The rioters are a paper tiger

Just let the police do their job and they crumple

On Wednesday morning, Seattle police finally removed the anarchist and antifa rebels/protesters from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) Occupied Protest (CHOP), which Todd Herman cleverly dubbed “antifastan.” Yet as the police went about restoring order to the six-block area unlawfully seized in the wake of the George Floyd protests, the police department reported a rather unnerving sight. It appears armed militants were patrolling the area in cars stripped of license plates.

“Officers are investigating several vehicles circling the area of today’s operation. Police have observed individuals in the vehicles with firearms/armor. The vehicles also appear to be operating without visible license plates,” the Seattle Police Department tweeted.

Andy Ngo, a victim of antifa violence and editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, condemned these “terrorist tactics.”  Ngo also highlighted ominous warnings about further antifa violence to follow the dismantling of CHOP.

All the same, the restoration of law and order in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district is worth celebrating. In fact, Ngo had to suspend his disbelief to report the final return of police on Wednesday. Last Monday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) announced that she would break up CHOP after two shootings the previous weekend, one of which tragically claimed the life of a 19-year-old black man. Yet she only sent city workers, not police, in to break up the lawless occupation, and her efforts failed. After another black person, this time a 16-year-old boy, tragically lost his life in a shooting this Monday, it appears she finally did what was necessary to get the job done.

“Breaking: The Seattle Police are retaking the Capitol Hill neighborhood that was taken captive by BLM and antifa militants for more than three weeks,” Ngo tweeted. He emphasized, “This is no joke,” sharing a picture of police on bicycles rolling into the area. The journalist added that “CHAZ was retaken by police in a matter of minutes.”

Police have made at least 32 arrests for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault. In one case, they arrested a 29-year-old man who held a large metal pipe and a kitchen knife. City workers also removed improvised spike strips, designed to puncture vehicle tires.

This decisive action came one day after Horace Lorenzo Anderson, the father of the 19-year-old man killed in a CHOP shooting last week, asked for the National Guard to put down the lawless occupation.

“I ain’t been sleeping. You see my eyes. I’ve been crying. I’m trying not to cry on TV,” Anderson said in a heartbreaking interview with KIRO 7. “This doesn’t look like a protest to me no more. That just looks like they just took over and said, ‘We can take over whenever we want to.’”

Anderson called for the National Guard to end the lawlessness. “They should deploy them here to say, ‘Man, it’s time to go, it’s time to move on.’ And break this up,” he said.

Anderson’s 19-year-old son died in a shooting on Saturday, June 20. The shooting also injured a 33-year-old man. The next day, another shooting left a 17-year-old boy injured in the arm. Another shooting on Monday morning took the life of a 16-year-old boy and left a 14-year-old boy critically injured.

The lawless occupying rioters originally named the area CHAZ, claiming to set up an “autonomous zone” outside the reach of U.S. law. This made them legally rebels against Seattle and the U.S., and President Donald Trump rightly urged Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) to restore law and order. The Democratic leaders, however, condemned Trump. Durkan and Inslee said it was “illegal and unconstitutional” to put down a rebellion.

It may seem silly that a bunch of protesters occupied a six-block area of Seattle and tried to set up an anarchist utopia, but the occupation was deadly serious for locals whose lives have been damaged by the lawlessness.

Sixteen residents and businesses sued the City of Seattle, alleging that the city failed to protect their rights by not taking action to restore law and order in the CHOP area. The occupation followed looting, vandalism, and arson across America that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 20 Americans, most of them black, have died in the riots. In the case of CHOP, two black teenagers have lost their lives in this lawlessness.

Americans are rightly angered about the horrific police killing of George Floyd, and it seems the men involved will face the justice they deserve for their evil actions. But anger over that horrific death does not justify the destruction of property, the seizure of land, and the lawless violence that takes even more innocent life.

It appears the story of CHOP has ended — for now. But as the police report noted, antifa anarchists are still active in Seattle, and the unrest is sadly far from over.



New Polling Shows There Is Hope for Patriotism Among America's Youth

In partnership with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) and Echelon Insights, Townhall has obtained exclusive polling results on patriotism and the favorability of the United States among America’s youth.

Of those surveyed, 82 percent had a “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of the American flag, divided among 91 percent of high school-aged students and 73 percent of high school graduates. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe America is “exceptional and unique” and is a country that “values liberty.” The poll found 54 percent of those who participated enthusiastically feel America offers “opportunity for all who work for it,” and 46 percent said America is both a “good example for other countries” and a nation that “values justice;” 43 percent enthusiastically said America “values equality.”

While standing for the national anthem draws country-wide controversy, 63 percent of respondents feel “extremely” or “very” comfortable standing for the national anthem and 58 percent held the same view of saying the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting or event.

Respondents logged an 80 percent “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of war veterans, 75 percent of the military, 72 percent of the Constitution, 65 percent of the Founding Fathers and 57 percent of American history as a whole. With these encouraging numbers, 34 percent of respondents would be “extremely” or “very” willing to serve in the military if America were to be attacked, while 31 percent said they would serve if we went to war and 30 percent during “peacetime.”

The overwhelming majority of those surveyed were full-time students, 47 percent male, 53 percent female. Forty-two percent identified as high-school aged, while 13 percent were working toward an associate’s degree, 31 percent toward a bachelor’s degree and seven percent toward a graduate degree. Eight percent indicated enrollment in trade or vocational school. Of those who participated in the poll, 21 percent identified as “very” or “somewhat” conservative, while 33 percent identified as “very” or “somewhat” progressive and 33 percent as moderate; four percent of respondents serve or have served in the military, while 16 percent have an immediate family member in the military and 17 percent an extended relative.

Patriotism has grown into a taboo subject among young adults, especially with the rise of social media dominance. For those who value pride in our country, this polling should be encouraging. Pro-America positions are alive and well among young Americans, even with the presence of unmistakable bias on college campuses and the leftist bubble constituting the overwhelming majority of social media platforms.



America’s War Zone: Guilt and Stupidity Fuel Extreme Grievances and Violence

“Two things are infinite,” Albert Einstein famously said: “The universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.”

It is very difficult not to bear in mind Einstein’s depressing view of humanity when witnessing the recent turn of events.

HBO has withdrawn “Gone with the Wind” from its viewing library, claiming it’s a racist film. J.K. Rowlings, creator of the Harry Potter franchise, is being accused, under a litany of insults, of “transphobia” for pointing out, in reference to a magazine article, that the word “woman” used to be the way to refer to “a person who menstruates.”

The co-creator of “Friends” wants forgiveness for not including African-Americans in the series. Paramount Network has canceled the long-running “Cops” show for “glorifying” the police. And Winston Churchill’s statue in London’s Parliament Square was recently sullied in the name of anti-fascism because protesters claim the leader who defeated fascism was fascist.

To keep up with the mood of the times, perhaps we should bulldoze the Roman Coliseum, a symbol of barbarism, cover Machu Picchu with graffiti, reminding us that the Incas “enslaved the masses,” and paint the Taj Mahal with tar, to memorialize the disregard that Emperor Shah Jahan, an Islamic Mogul, had toward Hindus and women—with the exception, of course, of his 11 “wives” and the 2,000 or so other women who comprised his harem.

Part of what is happening originates in the guilty conscience that has long been a feature of Western elites. Combine this with the deep-felt resentments of certain groups and individuals, and the frivolity of bored middle-class kids, and you achieve what we are now seeing: significant numbers of people taking their grievances, many of them justified, to violent, illiberal extremes.

When was the West’s guilty conscience born? Perhaps during the colonization of Latin America by Spain, a dominant European power at the time, when Dominican friars like Bartolom√© de las Casas, Francisco de Vitoria and Antonio Montesinos admirably lashed out at the mistreatment of the indigenous Indians.

Another possibility is that its antecedent can be found in what certain French academics call the “bourgeois bad conscience” that emerged in the 19th century during the Bourbon Restoration, when the sons of the bourgeois who had carried out the French Revolution on behalf of a more egalitarian society realized that “the people” were no better off and they had become the new aristocrats.

While those are possibilities, a more likely cause of today’s collectivized, identity—and grievance-based politics is multiculturalism.

Following World War II, when the European overseas colonies in Africa and Asia achieved independence, the idea that all cultures and values are equivalent became fashionable.

This notion, pushed by academics and intellectuals at first, turned into an ideology that sought to divide society into collectivist entities—groups—that were due certain “rights” and benefits from the rest of society.

Western civilization and its paradigms, liberal democracy and individual rights, fell out of favor. The idea that identity was based not on individual characteristics, but on belonging to a particular ethnic or minority group, became “cool,” with advocates demanding that society repair the damage suffered by these groups in the past through monetary compensation and that history be corrected by erasing the oppressive past from our memories by removing exterior signs and symbols.

The “Antifa” agitators who call everyone who is not allied with them a fascist—but act like fascists themselves by turning legitimate grievances into acts of vandalism and violence—weaken their cause by threatening liberal democracy and peaceful coexistence.

Decent people do not want America turned into a war zone in the name of anti-fascism, anti-racism or any other anti-ism. To think otherwise is the pinnacle of stupidity.




With follow-up report, New York Times subtly undercuts key aspects of its Russia-Taliban bounty scoops (The Daily Caller)

Joe Biden announces he will not hold campaign rallies, citing coronavirus fears (The Daily Caller)

Biden will release list of black women as potential SCOTUS nominees (Politico)

FCC designates Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE as security threats (National Review)

DHS deploys special federal unit to protect monuments over July 4 weekend amid vandalism fears (Fox News)

TikTok and 32 other iOS apps still snoop your sensitive clipboard data (Ars Technica)

We're one-third of the way to a widely available coronavirus vaccine, scientists say (USA Today)

Top Republicans encourage masks as virus spreads in Sun Belt (Washington Examiner)

Dow Jones Industrial Average posts best quarter since 1987 with 17% gain (Fox Business)

Local unions defy AFL-CIO in push to oust police unions (Politico)

"Not going back": Governor Ron DeSantis says no plans to reverse course on Florida reopening (Washington Examiner)

Walmart will stop selling "All Lives Matter" merchandise (USA Today)

Los Angeles City Council approves first step in replacing LAPD with community responders for nonviolent calls (FOX 11)

Virginia Democrats propose reducing charge for assaulting police officers (The Daily Wire)

Six Chicago children shot dead in a single week — all of whom are neglected by the mainstream media (FOX 32)

St. Louis prosecutor says she might overrule police and charge lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey who brandished firearms at protesters trespassers (UK Daily Mail)

"Worried that I was going to be killed": Mark McCloskey defends decision to draw guns on trespassers (Washington Examiner)

Mayor Bill de Blasio caves to absurd "defund the police" movement — while violent crime is up almost 190% (New York Post)

The kind of immigrant we should be welcoming to the United States: Afghan interpreter who saved U.S. troops gets American citizenship (NPR)

Woman walks into live CNN broadcast with "fake news" sign (The Daily Caller)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Thursday, July 02, 2020

Don't Be Fooled, Recent Coronavirus Data Suggests the Lockdowns Were a Colossal Mistake

In various states across the nation, there’s been a noticeable trend of an increase in coronavirus cases. While this fact makes the headlines, the detail that seems to get overlooked is the fact that deaths have declined. Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, and Ohio are among the states that have experienced spikes in cases but have maintained declining death rates or no spike in deaths.

How is this possible? Conventional wisdom suggests that a spike in cases should result in a spike in deaths, but that has not panned out. The protests and riots following George Floyd’s death have been going on for nearly a month now. Surely a spike in deaths should shave occurred by now. But so far, it hasn’t.

Why not?

According to Justin Hart, an information architect and data analyst from San Diego, “who” gets the virus is just as important as “how many” get the virus. “Right now the average age of infected cases has dropped nearly 20 years,” Hart told PJ Media.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged this fact last week: “The overwhelming majority of people who are now getting infected are young people, like the people that you see in the clips in the paper or out in the crowds enjoying themselves.” 

Why does this matter, you ask? Let me explain.

Coronavirus data says risk is low for most Americans

Young people, possibly from the recent protests and riots, are likely behind the recent spike in cases, and that tells us a lot about why the data looks the way it does right now. According to the CDC’s current best estimate, the fatality rate of the coronavirus for symptomatic cases only are as follows:

When you take into account that approximately 30% of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic, that drives the fatality rate down even further. “The risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work,” notes Josh Ketter on Medium.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, an expert in infectious diseases in Scotland, led a study that determined current lockdown restrictions could be easily lifted as long the most vulnerable populations are left protected. According to Woolhouse, for the non-vulnerable population, the coronavirus is comparable to a “nasty flu.”

Lockdowns should have focused on protecting the vulnerable

What the data is clearly telling us is that the lockdowns were not implemented correctly. While there is a significant risk for the older, at-risk population, for those under 65 years of age, the economy could have been kept open. Schools didn’t have to close down, and “non-essential” businesses could have continued to serve the public, many of whom had as much a chance of dying from the coronavirus as they did dying on their daily commute, but the lockdowns kept everyone, including the young and healthy, at home. We could have worn masks out in public to help slow the spread and flatten the curve to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Life could have remained relatively normal, and the economy didn’t have to suffer the way it did.

“We knew early on that younger cohorts managed very well,” Hart explained to PJ Media. “We should have let that group thrive to keep the economy going while protecting the vulnerable.”

Protecting the vulnerable is where many, particularly New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, went wrong. On March 25, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their coronavirus status. Even back then, it was known that the elderly were more vulnerable to the virus, so having coronavirus patients in nursing homes allowed the virus to spread like wildfire. Cuomo tried to cover up his deadly mistake before ultimately rescinding the order on May 11.

Nursing home patients represent a mere .46 percent of the United States population but account for approximately 43 percent of all coronavirus deaths. States should have protected them better from the beginning. Had they, we could have had a more strategic approach to the coronavirus lockdowns that allowed businesses and schools to stay open while quarantining the vulnerable.

The one-size-fits-all approach was a mistake

If school and working-age Americans understood that their risk of dying from the coronavirus was roughly the same as it is of dying during a daily car ride, do you think they’d want to continue the lockdowns? I don’t think so. Whether people realize it or not, every day they are making an assessment of risk as they go about their lives. It was true before the coronavirus, during it, and it will continue to be afterward. Is it really worth being afraid of living given the extremely low risk of fatality for a majority of the population? We should redirect resources to protecting the vulnerable and let the rest of us get this country working again.

The United States isn’t alone

Israel is also experiencing a second wave of cases that is mostly occurring in younger people. Israel did not experience the protests and rioting we had in the United States, but bars, beaches, and school reopened, causing a spike in cases, but, as you can see from the graphs from Worldometer, no spike in deaths.



A supermarket meltdown, which saw a woman throw her groceries across the store in a fit of rage, has exposed a deep divide in the US.

Footage from the weekend shows a shopper in a Dallas supermarket picking her groceries out of her trolley and throwing them across the store in a fit of rage after she was asked to wear a mask.

“I don’t give a f**k about these dumb-ass f***ing rules,” she can be heard yelling as she throws her food on the floor in a foul-mouthed tirade.

It is just one of many incidents that show how divided the US is over the issue of masks.

Another video circulating on social media over the weekend shows NYPD officers clearly breaking the rules of a local pizza joint by lining up without masks, enraging hundreds of commenters online.

The fraught situation is expected to worsen in coming weeks as states move to reopen their economies, bringing the mask-wearers and the mask-cynics into closer contact.

Masks are becoming increasingly viewed a shorthand for the debate around freedom in America and which side of the fence you sit.

Those who follow health guidance and cover their faces say they are protecting their fellow Americans, while those who don’t feel it violates their freedom or buys into a threat they think is overblown.

It is a divide which is playing out at the very top of the politics in the US.

President Donald Trump has also refused to wear a mask during the pandemic, whether at the White House where officials and aides are tested regularly, or in public settings.

He has even suggested some Americans are wearing facial coverings not as a preventive measure but as a way to signal disapproval of him.

In May, he wore a mask while visiting a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan but took it off before he appeared in front of media cameras.

“I don’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

His Democratic rival Joe Biden has gone down the opposite route by showcasing his mask on social media and imploring Americans to follow suit.



Why New Zealand decided to go for full elimination of the coronavirus

They have subsequently had cases caught from overseas visitors

New Zealand has been widely praised for its aggressive response to covid-19. At the time of writing, the country had just 10 active cases. But Michael Baker, the doctor who formulated New Zealand’s elimination strategy, says that even some of his colleagues initially thought it was too radical a plan and resisted its implementation. “Some likened it to using a sledgehammer to kill a flea,” he says.

The first case of covid-19 in New Zealand was recorded on 28 February. Like most countries, it initially planned to gradually tighten its control measures as the virus gained momentum. But Baker, a public health expert at the University of Otago who is on the government’s covid-19 advisory panel, believed that this was the wrong approach. “I thought we should do it in the reverse order and throw everything at the pandemic at the start,” he says.

Baker was inspired by the World Health Organization’s report from its joint mission to China in February, which documented how the country largely contained covid-19 when it was already in full flight. This convinced Baker that New Zealand could also stop the virus from spreading and even wipe it out entirely if it implemented a strict lockdown as soon as possible.

Other experts, however, argued that New Zealand should take a lighter approach like Sweden, which never fully locked down. Many believed the spread of covid-19 was inevitable and that an elimination strategy would “never work”, says Baker. Others thought that locking down the country would lead to mass unemployment, poverty and suicide, which would outweigh the benefits of containing the virus.

The government ultimately decided to go with Baker’s advice, possibly because of his public health track record. In the 1980s, for example, he helped establish the world’s first national needle exchange programme, which has meant that rates of HIV among injecting drug users in New Zealand are some of the lowest globally.

“I thought we should do it in the reverse order and throw everything at the pandemic at the start”
On 25 March, when New Zealand had only 205 covid-19 cases and no deaths, the government implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, only permitting people to leave their homes for essential reasons like buying food and going to the doctor. This followed the closure of New Zealand’s borders to non-nationals on 19 March.

Baker felt “very moved” by the government’s decision, but also anxious, because he didn’t know if it would work. “As a scientist, you feel very worried if you’re giving advice when the evidence base isn’t totally there yet, particularly when it’s something that could be harmful to people,” he says.

However, putting the entire country into home quarantine early on extinguished community transmission and gave authorities time to strengthen testing and contact tracing capacities, which were initially “really quite woeful”, says Baker.

The country has recorded only 1515 covid-19 cases and 22 deaths to date, and hasn’t had any new, locally acquired cases since 22 May. The current active cases are all citizens in supervised quarantine after returning from overseas. On 8 June, New Zealand lifted all its restrictions except for its border control measures. “There was this amazing sense of relief,” says Baker.

He is proud of New Zealand’s success, but says it is important not to become complacent or smug. Baker warns that other countries that have seemingly got on top of the virus, such as China and South Korea, have experienced subsequent outbreaks.

Last week, New Zealand was shaken by the news that two women had tested positive for covid-19 after returning from the UK and being allowed to leave quarantine early to visit a dying relative. Extensive contact tracing is now under way.

To guard against a second wave in New Zealand, Baker thinks masks should be worn on public transport, aircraft and at border control and quarantine facilities.




Democratic National Committee tweets then deletes post linking Trump's Mt. Rushmore event to "glorifying white supremacy" (Fox News)

Supreme Court refuses to block upcoming federal executions (AP)

John Hickenlooper condemned by liberal groups after photo of him dressed as Native American surfaces (Washington Examiner)

Department of Health and Human Services secures new supplies of the coronavirus therapeutic drug remdesivir (HHS.gov)

"Our luck may have run out": California's case count explodes — Los Angeles County, which has been averaging more than 2,000 new cases each day, surpassed 100,000 total cases on Monday (The New York Times)

Jacksonville, Florida, to require face masks to slow rising coronavirus cases (CNN)

China study warns of possible new "pandemic virus" from pigs (Reuters)

At long last, black man is charged with felony assault after attacking Macy's employee in viral video (Disrn)

First of four cops charged in the death of George Floyd will plead not guilty to second-degree murder and manslaughter (UK Daily Mail)

Why no outrage? Atlanta shootings surge, but it's not the cops (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Latest Seattle CHOP shooting kills 16-year-old boy, critically wounds 14-year-old boy — both of whom are black (Fox News)

Russia denies nuclear plant leaks as mysterious radiation spike reported over northern Europe (Washington Examiner)

Conservative groups see abortion ruling as catalyst for reelecting Trump (Politico)

John Wayne's family has defended the screen icon amid calls for his name to be removed due to "racist" comments made in 1971 (UK Daily Mail)

Why West Virginia hasn't canceled its Democrat senator from the KKK (RealClearInvestigations)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Chinese coronavirus vaccine approved for use in country's military after clinical trials

China's military has approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by its own research staff and a Chinese biotech firm, it was announced on Monday.

The vaccine was given the green light for use by troops after trials proved it was both safe and effective, said CanSino Biologics, the biotech firm involved.

However, its use for the time being will be restricted to military personnel, who offer a tighter medical control group than the general public.

The vaccine candidate, named Ad5-nCoV, was developed jointly by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. It has been in development since March.

CanSino said the results showed the vaccine candidate has potential to prevent diseases caused by the coronavirus, which has killed half a million people globally....



Lockdown and the new Left Privilege

Powerful article by professor Augusto Zimmerman below

As a constitutional lawyer and legal theorist who appreciates our classical liberal tradition of constitutional government and the rule of law, I have been against the imposition of lockdown measures since they began, thinking that they are not only unnecessary but also completely arbitrary and ultimately a gross violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

We have been harassed for sitting on park benches. We have been forced to cancel weddings, and have not been not allowed even to say goodbye to our loved ones or go to their funerals. But at least I took some comfort in the idea that “we are all in this together”.

This is now all gone, seeing how the rules have been flouted by the protests of the far left. Thousands of left-wing activists have defied the law to take part in the Black Lives Matter and other Leftist protests and marches.

I am deeply disappointed with the authorities who tacitly consented to these protests. They have turned such activists into a small group of privileged individuals who can go ahead with their disruptions despite the official health advice about COVID-19. For those “mortal beings” who have more fully complied with these draconian measures, it has resulted in severe disruption of their private lives and social gatherings. Their businesses and livelihoods have been seriously compromised.

It’s one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us. You may even call it ‘Leftist Privilege’ if you wish. The rules that apply to these Leftists are entirely different. They can freely protest because their illiberal worldview is considered more valid and more important by the country’s equally illiberal ruling elites.

In fact, it seems to me that the greatest privilege on offer in our society today is the privilege of being a Leftist. If one is a Leftist, it appears that you will be entitled to special privileges in exercising your intolerance with absolute freedom and be immune from the law. Such people can attend rallies that spread their bigotry, although they are also the very ones that, for purely ideological reasons, have been calling for an extended lockdown.

The level of hypocrisy is truly staggering, especially because we, law-abiding citizens, have been forced to withhold wedding ceremonies or been excluded from the funerals of our loved ones. Because our businesses have been forced into ‘hibernation’, some of us have now had our livelihoods entirely destroyed.

How can such politicians look their victims in the eye and say it was worth it?

The people, who felt their concerns about long-term economic and mental health costs were brushed aside just a few weeks ago, are now increasingly asking why these politicians are allowing the left-wing mobs to occupy the streets in blatant disregard of lockdown measures.

Ironically, these rallies provide more compelling evidence of how the so-called “pandemic” has been fabricated for ideological reasons, and successfully used to undermine individual rights, the market economy, and to further empower the coercive apparatuses of the State at every single level of government.

Spreading new cases of coronavirus and force more governmental intervention may very well have been the hidden agenda of some protest organisers. They might have hoped that these protests could result in more infections which would then lead to further deaths and government interventions, the greatest burden falling on black communities.

Once again these unpopular Leftist groups have achieved their ultimate goal and proven that laws which are supposedly valid for all, and passed to protect us, mean absolutely nothing to them. Of course, it will now become extremely difficult for these governments to impose their dictatorial powers on ordinary people, who have so far consented to the oppressive commands of their political masters without a more proper questioning of their constitutional validity.

Entitled by the mainstream media, more protests of this kind are planned despite possible court orders and health experts pleading for them to not go ahead at the risk of exposing people to coronavirus infection. But the number of people infected is likely to be much lower than they might expect, which then ironically exposes the measures to fight a “pandemic” in which the mortality rates are extremely low, and much lower than a normal flu.

Of course, there was never an emergency that could possibly justify the use of such extreme measures. Relying on a few experts, our federal and state politicians have used their powers beyond the limits of constitutionality, to destroy jobs and much of the productive sector of society, while leaving the bloated public sector intact. Inevitably, the job losses caused by these unconstitutional measures will lead to more homelessness and financial pressures, leading to higher suicide rates, drug abuse, poverty, and a dramatic growth in crime, which always increases in times of recession.

This leads some people to the reasonable assumption such protests may have assisted the population to better understand the political agenda behind a “pandemic” disaster that now appears to be entirely fabricated, and essentially justifying the concentration of power on a minority of privileged individuals, especially “experts”, bureaucrats and politicians.

If that was the hidden agenda behind the “pandemic”, perhaps even more significant is how these protests unintentionally expose the political elite’s illiberal agenda, with dramatic implications for the rule of law and basic rights of the people. Since the rates of community transmission of coronavirus are extremely low, and many states are simply not being able to report any new cases for days in a row, there is a real chance that these protests unwillingly expose the anti-democratic and illiberal nature of the country’s ruling elites.

With the public sector wholly protected, ordinary citizens are now being controlled minutely by extraordinary measures which are based on an arbitrary exercise of power. Of course, it will now become extremely difficult for the political elites to impose these measures on ordinary people, who have so far consented to them without a more proper questioning of their constitutional validity.

I personally find the latest developments truly disgusting and basically a sign that the people have been miserably betrayed by an uncaring, uncompassionate political elite in their insatiable desire for more power and control. In particular, those protests over the weekend have revealed the authoritarian agenda and reckless indifference of the political elites to the suffering of the people.

In this context, our political leaders should be reminded of John Locke, that great ‘Founder of Liberalism’. Locke, whose political philosophy underpins the 1688 Glorious Revolution and the UScDeclaration of Independence, argued that governments have no other end ‘but the preservation of these rights, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects’. If a government exceeds the limits of its legitimate power, citizens have the lawful right to resist such acts of political oppression.

As Locke famously put it: "Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the rights of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence."

We should not be too hasty in dismissing Locke’s idea of lawful resistance. This is our classical liberal tradition of constitutional government and it firmly communicates that there cannot be one rule for some and another for the rest of us. To be sure, the only positive outcome from these protests is that the population are finally getting an insight into the real mentality of their ruling elites.

Federal, state, and territory leaders have been considerably exposed. The people have the basic right to demand the lifting of arbitrary restrictions and restoration of our individual rights and freedoms. We have sacrificed our freedoms. We have lost our jobs and businesses apparently for nothing. End these draconian restrictions right now or face the lawful (and constitutional) resistance of the people.


A comment received from a reader:

Consider My Personal Experiences, In Light Of The “Virus Crisis”.

In 2014, I Was Diagnosed With Sepsis (Documented By Blood Cultures) With Staph Aureus Epidermidis, An Almost Universal Skin Bactteria.
If I Died, It Would Be Recorded As A “Staph Aureus Epidermidis Death”.

In 2016, I Was Diagnosed With E Coli Sepsis.
Again, If I Died It Would Be Recorded As An “E Coli Death”.

In 2018, Following My Amputation, Some Corynobacteria, A Common Skin Bacteria, Were Cultured In The Bone Above The Amputation. If I Died, It May Have Been Recorded As A “Corynobacteria Death”, Even Though Repeated Blood Cultures  Were Negative. Recording This As A “Corynobacterium Death” Would Be An Error, Because I Never Had Sepsis By This Bug.

And, Likewise, When More “Testing” Is Done, It Appears That Almost Everyone Has Been “Exposed”. Few Are Even Sick, Yet All Tests Are Recorded.

This Author Puts It Into Words - Yes - It Is A “Hoax”.


The Four Horsemen of America's Apocalypse

It takes a lot to build a civilization, and though it is much easier to destroy a civilization, it takes a lot to do that, too.

But now we have four roots of evil that are guaranteed to do so.

No. 1: Victimhood.

The first is victimhood. The more people who regard themselves as victims — as individuals or as a group — the more likely they are to commit evil. People who think of themselves as victims feel that, having been victimized, they are no longer bound by normal moral conventions — especially the moral conventions of their alleged or real oppressors.

Everyone knows this is true. But few confront this truth. Every parent, for example, knows that the child who thinks of him or herself as a perpetual victim is the child most likely to cause and get into trouble. And criminologists report that nearly every murderer in prison thinks of himself as a victim.

On a societal scale, the same holds true — and being on such a larger scale, the chances of real evil ensuing are exponentially increased. One of the most obvious examples is Germany after World War I. Most Germans regarded themselves as victims — of the Treaty of Versailles; of a “stab in the back” German government; of the British, Americans and French; and, of course, of the Jews. This sense of victimhood was one of the most important factors in the popularity of the Nazis, who promised to restore German dignity.

That millions of black Americans regard themselves as victims — probably more so today than at any time in the past 50 years — can only lead to disaster for America generally and for blacks specifically. While victims generally feel free to lash out at others, they also go through life angry and unhappy.

No. 2: Demonization.

The second of the four ingredients of this civilization-destroying witches’ brew is demonization — demonizing a group as inherently evil.

That is being done now with regard to the white people of America. All — again, (SET ITAL)all(END ITAL) — whites are declared racist. The only difference among them is that some admit it and some deny it. The notion that whites are inherently evil has long been associated with Louis Farrakhan. But it has apparently migrated out from his relatively small following to many blacks, even those who might consider Farrakhan a kook. Former President Barack Obama, hardly a Farrakhan follower, described America as having racism in its DNA. That is as close to inherently and irredeemably evil as it gets; you cannot change your DNA.

In that sense, not only are whites demonized, but America is, too. Unlike traditional liberals, the left regards America as a moral cesspool — not only racist but, according to The New York Times, founded to be so. The New York Times has created a history of America that declares its founding not in 1776 but in 1619, when the first black slaves arrived. The American Revolution was fought, according to this malign narrative, not merely for American independence but in order to preserve slavery, a practice the British would have interfered with. This “history” will now be taught in thousands of American schools.

The combination of victimhood and demonization alone is dangerous enough. But there are still two more horsemen galloping toward the looming apocalypse.

No. 3: A Cause To Believe In.

Most Americans throughout American history found great meaning in being American and in being religious — usually Christian. Since World War II, we have lived in a post-Christian, post-nationalist age. Until very recently, Americans would have found the expression “for God and country” deeply meaningful; that term today, on the left, is risible and execrable.

But people need something to believe in. The need for meaning is the greatest human need after the need for food. Leftism, with all its offshoots — feminism, environmentalism, Black Lives Matter, antifa — has filled that vacuum. In Europe, communism, fascism and Nazism filled the hole left by the demise of nationalism and Christianity. Here it is leftism and its offshoots.

No. 4: Lies.

The fourth and most important ingredient necessary for evil is lies. Lies are the root of evil. Ironically, slavery itself was made possible only because of the lie that the black was inferior to the white. Nazism was made possible thanks to the lie that Jews were not fully human. And communism was built on lies. Lenin, the father of Soviet Communism, named the Soviet communist newspaper “Truth” (“Pravda”) because truth was what the Communist Party said it was.

The New York Times, CNN and the rest of the mainstream “news” media are becoming our version of Pravda.

Objective truth doesn’t exist on the left. The universities have already declared “objective truth” as essentially an expression of “white privilege.” See what happens to a student who says in class, for example, that “men cannot give birth.”

The public self-debasement demanded of anyone who differs with the left — like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees just did when he said not standing for the national anthem desecrated the flag and those who have died for it — happens almost daily. The only difference between this and what dissidents underwent during Mao’s Cultural Revolution is that the self-debasement here is voluntary — thus far.
Last week, when this Jew saw a store in Santa Monica with a sign reading “black-owned business” so as to avoid being destroyed, it evoked chilling memories.

That’s how bad it is in America today.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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